IN THE NEXT WEEK, MY DAUGHTER MEETS HER THIRD BIRTHDAY, AND I HOPE MY FATHER REACHES HIS NEXT ONE. I watch my daughter wake up a little more with each breath, and with each breath I watch my father go to sleep a little more. I am in the middle. It’s a curious place, being in the middle years. Being in the between.
I meet so many other creatives who also live in these middle years and in this middle space that I wanted to share this more personal dispatch, taken from my latest newsletter. It triggered several heartfelt stories and responses in reply; so, I know it helps to navigate this space in words.
When in deep questions, I turn to trees and wind, to my wife and friends, and to books. And Scott Russell Sanders’ remarkable memoir A Private History of Awe has been priming me for this Time Between Birth and Death since I first read it some six years ago.
In it he writes of watching his seven-month-old granddaughter Elizabeth on one end and on the other his dying mother. His greatest wish for his granddaughter, he writes, “is that she will never lose touch with the wonder of being alive, that she will never cease to be amazed by the sensations flowing into her. …What I wish for Elizabeth, for my own daughter and son, and for all of us blessed with consciousness is not that we remain children forever but that we remain forever awake to the astounding isness of things…. The moment we begin taking this skein of miracles for granted, we cease to live, no matter if our hearts still beat.”
More than anything, that awakeness is what this tracking wonder venture has been all about. I want to be awake to the urge to create, because this urge to create is the very urge to be alive (I have slipped out of bed in the middle of the night to write this.). I want to be awake to what matters most at any moment.
I speak with my father who gasps for breath about what he wants to do. I speak with doctors and caregivers and lawyers. I speak intimately with a friend whose beloved marriage is dissolving as his view of himself is being reborn at the same time. I continue to hold space for and further the creative momentum of astounding clients day after day. I cut limbs from black walnuts and oaks because they need to grow well. I take my wife and daughter on canoe rides around the pond early in the morning. I hold my wife. I hug my daughter. I write.
This is what we do in the between space, in the middle. We keep going as we create and we keep creating as we go. “I sleep to wake and take my waking slow/I feel my fate in what I cannot fear./I learn by going where I have to go.” Theodore Roethke’s words also have anchored me during many deep transitions. The creating makes the path we walk.
That’s it, for now. That is a clearing: Creating makes the path we walk. We know the mind makes decisions mostly at an unconscious, visceral, emotional level. That we might think we have a purpose and calling, a rational one we can articulate, but, really, something else is often afoot with our life direction that we cannot put into words. That sometimes we actually follow an non-fulfilling – though wholly rational – calling. We know that deep creating draws from those trans-rational parts of the mind. That creating involves observing patterns, combining things from disparate areas of knowledge, unearthing personal and universal symbols.
Perhaps, then, we can create into a fulfilling life purpose. We can create into a calling. I don’t mean we create our calling in some Secret kind of way. I mean that by engaging in creative work, the creative work and the actions we take can make up the path we walk. First, we create. And then our purpose becomes more clear. Not always the other way around. Not only the “We are What We Do” idea but related.
It’s okay to be in the not-knowing space. It’s okay to be in Fertile Confusion. If you’re awake. If you keep your Wild Packs and Nurture Packs alive. If you keep creating the path you walk. These simple things I’ve learned and know to be true, and I seem to hold onto these verities like flashlights. But it’s also okay in these moments to let go of everything you think you know to be true, too. That way you’ll see what comes back.
Time is precious. Shape it. Until July 16, you can get a free copy of the Tracking Wonder Mind Rooms Guide to Time-Sculpting by signing up for my blog updates now via Feedburner.
Certain practices, tools, and re-frames have helped me and the numerous scholars, therapists, professional creatives, enterprisers, and others I work with navigate these between spaces and keep creating during times of great disruption.
I’m taking a small group of creatives & enterprisers through these core teachings in the Mastering Your Creative Work Flow Mini-course. It starts today. It’s not too late to snag one of the few spots left. And if you miss today’s live module, you can get the downloadable recordings and screen-casts.
I relish this Tracking Wonder community that you’re a part of. Thanks for showing up for what matters and for making this world just a little more beautiful, meaningful, and humane.
DROP IN THE HUT
How do you help yourself and others navigate these tricky times? Does creative work help unfold your purpose? I’d love for you to share your stories and insights here at the Hut.
See you in the woods,